Let's say you're a good-sized auto manufacturer about to release an all-electric car with around 100 miles worth of range and you want it to gain market acceptance (and market share) as quickly as possible. After years of planning and engineering, you have a vehicle that's attractive, safe and offers superior performance to its gas-powered equivalent. Your surveys and focus groups are telling you that a profitable percentage of consumers would pay extra for a superior ownership experience which is what, for the most part, you are ready to offer. There is really only one bad-apple issue that may need special attention to ensure the whole bunch doesn't get spoiled: range anxiety of the long trip kind.

Potential road-tripping consumers of your LEAF / i MiEV / Focus EV are worried they may find themselves on a dark desert highway without cool wind in their hair and without a charge in their batteries. Yes, the vast majority of trips taken are well within the range limits of your product and opportunity-charging stations are being installed in their thousands over the next few years, but it's not enough. A few times a year, many Americans want to take their car on a trip that involves driving a few hundred miles and, until batteries are greatly improved, that can't be done in a BEV.

GM has, of course, opted to overcome this obstacle by placing a gas engine in the vehicle to act as a personal mobile generator which, though a bit of a kludge, is a decent short-term fix. For those haters of the whole gasoline paradigm though, it's akin to driving around with a lawyer in your back seat (or if you prefer, your trunk) on the off chance you may actually need his/her/its advice one day. We believe we have another approach that may not only be greeted enthusiastically by your customers but also allow you an opportunity to introduce the electric experience to more members of the driving public: Free rental cars. Hit the jump for the details.

No, we're not crazy. Consider how much more attractive your vehicle is if, through a strategic partnership with a national rental chain, your customer can have their long trip worries assuaged by the availability of a gas vehicle for 10 days a year for the first three years of ownership. Comparable size, doorstep delivery with a day's notice with no hassle. In exchange for premium service from your partner, you can supply discounted electrics exclusively for their chain and split a bit of marketing. They get to tout a unique product that should command a slightly higher rental rate while more people have an opportunity to try your product for a few days. Sounds like win-win, no?

Now, there is no doubt the strategy could be tweaked and improved. It could be a low-cost option instead of included in the base vehicle purchase price, or you may want to offer 2 weeks over 2 years arrangement instead of 30 days over 3. The details are between you, your marketing department and your accounting staff. We're just throwing out the raw idea for you to chew on, no charge. If you're reading this and would like to suggest improvements to the plan or just want to inform us we're delusional, hit us up in the comments below.


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